Country ambassadors

Country ambassadors

Welcome to Shelf Life, the blog that reports the stories being told by packaging on the supermarket shelf. This issue is inspired by a current project to sell the image of one country in another. Can packaging tell us an ownable brand story by invoking aspects of country of origin? Or is this a path…

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Latin chalk & cheese

Two Spanish-speaking beer stories for openers: San Miguel’s new UK advertising features a beer glass telling a story of its adventures in 79 countries, each one with its own unique sunset. Other countries are taking a slightly different tack on the execution, but they all talk of ‘worldliness’ and a bit of Spanish attitude (living…

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Islay’s faithful son

Laphroaig Whisky distillery and bottles

The small Scottish Island of Islay is home to 8 distilleries, all but one coastal and battered by salt winds. The malts made here include some of the wildest and most characterful in the malt-whisky spectrum, with flavours and aromas described by words such as phenol, tar, smoke, iodine and carbolic. They take a bit…

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Swish Swiss

Believe it or not four countries are represented in this shot of biscuit delicacies, but do they play to national strengths to tempt us into purchase? France plays its ‘love of traditional food’ card, whilst Germany goes for an unexpectedly emotional, indulgent feel. Belgium’s devotion to craft, tradition and ingredient excellence is well represented here,…

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Middle England

Waitrose Cooks product range

In cooking aids, Waitrose’s degree of overtrading (its market share of one sector versus its share of all groceries) is now quite spectacular, due mainly to these stylish packs with an irresistible story: “I’m a proper cook”. With their chatty titles that take you half way into the recipe you’re going to use them in,…

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One trick pony

Despite its rich history and diverse landscapes and peoples, Mexico outside Mexico seems to have approximately one story, and here it is: hot chilli sombrero bandit cactus (feel free to change the order). It’s not pretty, it’s not fair, and it’s certainly not good branding, but it is testament to the constraining power of a…

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Style and substance

Italian coffee brand packaging

The things that different cultures decide to excel in is clearly linked to their history and geography; passion for and expertise in a particular product or service becomes part of the brand story of a country or region. But does passion and expertise automatically lead to good design? For Italian cars and clothes the answer must…

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Czech this out

Czech beer packaging

So I guess everyone in the Czech Republic writes with a quill pen. That might explain the universal language of their beer branding: elaborate, quirky old-fashioned scripts with a bold underline. This is supported with even older-fashioned coats of arms or wax seals of medieval towns and cities, and some uncompromisingly dowdy colour choices. So…

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Fondue Time

Riches Monts and Chalet Cheese Fondue packaging

I don’t know what makes way, but at this time of year the cheese fixtures of France and Belgium suddenly acquire a lot more products to make cheese-based winter warmers. I’m feeling the love and almost tasting the dripping bread in the log cabin interior promised by RichesMonts; but down at Chalet Fondue it’s still summer…

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From Russia with credibility

Smirnoff sounds Russian in an ever so slightly made-up way, but its design proudly displays Tsarist symbology to clarify that it has proper heritage; further reassurance of authenticity can be found in the extra details on the base label and bottle embossing. Stolichnaya, ‘Stoli’ to its friends, sports a staunchly communist aesthetic; I feel like saluting…

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